Empowering Traditional Owners

Empowering Traditional Owners is a core principle for the NNTC as well as its members and can be achieved through the promotion of economic development to deliver real benefits for Traditional Owners and their communities.


Traditional Owners seek to prosper from the rights and interests they possess and have aspirations to not only participate in modern economic life, but to be significant contributors to the economy.  Native title enables Indigenous participation in Australia’s economy, society and environment for the benefit of all Australians.


By translating native title rights and interests into tangible economic and social benefits for their communities, Traditional Owners can achieve far higher levels of economic participation and wealth creation through employment, investment and enterprise development.


Empowering Traditional Owners through economic development is therefore a fundamental pillar for the NNTC agenda.  Initiatives will include developing activities around the following areas:

  • Seeking the introduction of an ICDC and related economic development support for PBCs;
  • Promoting the benefits of economic development ;
  • Coordinating a cohesive position in response to the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia; and
  • Promoting land tenure reform.


The former Labor Government looked favourably on an ICDC tax vehicle and agreed to develop an entity in consultation with stakeholders.  In collaboration with the Minerals Council of Australia the NNTC will lobby for the Federal Government to introduce legislation for an ICDC type vehicle in the next term of Government.


In 2015 COAG launched an investigation into Indigenous land administration and use.  The Investigation identified five key areas where governments should focus their efforts:

  • Gaining efficiencies and improving effectiveness in the process of recognising rights;
  • Supporting bankable interests in land;
  • Improving the process for doing business on Indigenous land and land subject to native title;
  • Investing in the building blocks of land administration; and
  • Building capable and accountable land holding and representative bodies.


The COAG process resulted in all Australian governments committing to working with Indigenous stakeholders to improve the processes for doing business on Indigenous land and land subject to native title.  The suite of recommendations proposed by the Senior Officers Working Group to COAG included commitments to support more effective and efficient local decision-making and to support the ability of Indigenous landowners and native title holders to use their rights in land and waters to promote private investment on Indigenous land, creating bankable interests on exclusive possession native title land and use of commercial native title rights.


Working closely with the Senior Officers Working Group to COAG, the Expert Indigenous Working Group expressed the strong view that development on Indigenous land and waters will only be successful and sustainable where Indigenous people are provided with the opportunity to be partners in development, to give their free, prior and informed consent and to benefit economically and socially from the development.


Such an approach is also consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and will be the core principle for the NNTC in promoting Indigenous control for the economic development on Indigenous land.


Such broad support of the COAG recommendations across jurisdictions should provide a solid foundation for implementing those initiatives that would assist Indigenous peoples develop financial opportunities for future generations.


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